University of Michigan alumna named president, CEO of USA Gymnastics

UM grad, former gymnast Li Li Leung to begin duties March 8

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Li Li Leung (Credit: USA Gymnastics)

ANN ARBOR - USA Gymnastics' newest president and chief executive officer has an Ann Arbor connection.

The sport's national governing body announced Tuesday that University of Michigan alumna Li Li Leung will take the lead starting March 8.

Leung comes to USA Gymnastics after serving for four years as the vice president of the National Basketball Association. While at the NBA, she played a major role in fostering marketing partnerships, licensing, merchandising and global integration.

"I am honored to be the next CEO of USA Gymnastics and to lead an organization that plays an important role in a sport that I care deeply about and had so much positive influence on my life," Leung said in statement.

"Like everyone, I was upset and angry to learn about the abuse and the institutions that let the athletes down. I admire the courage and strength of the survivors, and I will make it a priority to see that their claims are resolved. I look forward to collaborating with the entire gymnastics community to create further change going forward, which requires that we implement important initiatives to strengthen athlete health and safety and build a clear and inclusive plan for the future. For me, this is much more than a job: It is a personal calling for which I stand ready to answer."

Some of Nassar's victims responded with this statement through an attorney on the day of the announcement:

"Sadly, Ms. Leung has precisely the same sports marketing background as her predecessors Steve Penny and Kerry Perry," attorney John Manly said in the statement. "That is exactly the wrong background to implement change to protect children."

Leung is the fourth person to lead the embattled organization in just under two years. 

Background

Leung, along with her twin sister, May May, competed on Michigan's gymnastics team from 1992-1995, when she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. The New Jersey native was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and was on four Big Ten Conference championship teams, during which she was runner-up on the balance beam in 1993.

"I am elated for Li Li and thrilled she has been given this incredible opportunity," said U-M head coach Bev Plocki in a statement. "She is great for this position because she was a gymnast and has a true understanding of what they are going through and what they are trying to do, but at the same time has the experience as an executive in business. I think she is going to be perfect and do an amazing job."

After graduating, she earned two master's degrees in business administration and sport management and went on to have a successful international career as a consultant for and later founder of global marketing firms.

She helped negotiate a sponsorship deal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics while at Helios Partners China valued at more than $20 million and was a consulted with the Chinese Basketball Association on commercial development. She went on to become a senior executive for Helios Partners LLC. in London, helped secure sponsorships for the London Olympics and advised the Arsenal Football Club.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!

All About Ann Arbor is powered by ClickOnDetroit/WDIV